No matter how much we like to explore books from different authors and genres, we would always prefer to read something relatable over any other book. It’s a fact and there’s no denying it. For example, being a girl swinging in-between teenage and adulthood, I like to read coming-of-age books with females as protagonists more than any other book. Every person belonging to any sect of society would want to read books concerning their social life. Here, let’s talk about our native American fellows.
I have quite a few native American friends whom I met through social media during this quarantine period. As I talked with them, I got to know that some of them were book-lovers and active readers just like me! As we talked more about reading and books, I discovered a similar pattern: they all were more inclined towards the books that mentioned their community. They even suggested a few books, which I’m going to share with you here.
Native Americans live in the United States of America but with their roots ranging back from India. There are many books out there that concern the native Americans, their lives, and their struggles, a few of which are written by some native American authors themselves. In contrast, others are being reported by some other writers who’ve witnessed their lives up close.
As I mentioned, some of my native American friends suggested a couple of books and I’ve read them all. I found them all super interesting to read. It’s time for me to share those books with other native American fellows out there who might want to have a look at them.
13 Books Every Native American Should Read
Here are the 13 books I would like every native American friend to read.
1. Shell Shaker
Authored by Leanne Howe, Shell Shaker is a novel written in 2001 and is 223 pages long.
This novel revolves around the murder cases of two Choctaw warriors. Choctaw are those native American people who occupy the Southeastern United States.
This book should be read by native Americans, especially the younger ones, as it’ll teach them about the history and culture of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Sundown is a historical fiction written by John Joseph Mathews in 1934 and is 329 pages long.
The story of this book revolves around Challenge, a mixed-blood Osage who struggles to find his identity among his Osage tribe and the white society around him.
Native Americans should read this novel and people from other communities to realize that there’s nothing to be ashamed of the social sect you belong from.
3. House Made Of Dawn
House Made Of Dawn, authored by N. Scott Momaday, is a 212 pages long historical fiction written in 1968.
This book revolves around a World War II veteran, Abel, who struggles to live an everyday life after returning home and even commits a severe crime. In the end, he finally learns to embrace his native American heritage.
Native Americans should read this one as; first, you’ll be able to relate to it and, second, you’ll learn to accept yourself as you are despite having people tell you otherwise.
4. The Woman Who Owned The Shadows
The Woman Who Owned The Shadows is another historical fiction on the list, written by Paila Gunn Allen in 1983 and is 213 pages long.
This book is about Ephaine, who is vulnerable as her husband is dead and she cannot take care of her children. She leaves for San Francisco, where she makes herself strong enough to not rely on men anymore.
This novel is mainly for the native American women who struggle to discover their identity and role in this diverse society.
Authored by Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony is a 1977 published speculative fiction that is 262 pages long.
This book is about a World War II veteran of Laguna Pueblo descent named Tayo and three evil spiritual forces to destroy him. Laguna Pueblo is a recognized tribe of native American people who reside in west-central New Mexico, near Albuquerque, in the United States.
This novel is mainly for Native Americans with mixed ancestry and how it can affect their status, choices, and thinking in society.
6. Winter In The Blood
Winter In The Blood is a work of fiction authored by James Welch in 1974 and is 160 pages long.
This novel is pretty dark and gritty and revolves around a young man’s struggles with alienation, loneliness, and identity crises as the world doesn’t make any sense to him.
It is for those few native Americans who struggle with the same problems as the protagonist so that you can relate and try to find comfort in it.
Power is a 1998 published domestic coming-of-age novel written by Linda Hogan and is 248 pages long.
The story is about a teenage Taiga girl, Omishito, who is stuck between the modern world and the sacred world of her tribe where her aunt killed an endangered panther considered sacred to her tribe.
Native Americans should read this novel and make the young ones read it as the societal crises leave a significant irreversible mark on their brain, which you might want to protect them from.
8. Griever: An American Monkey King In China
Griever: An American Monkey King In China is a political fiction written by Gerald Vizenor in 1987 and is 240 pages long.
In This Novel, Griever, a reservation-born tribal trickster, casts himself as a modern monkey king, joining the modernized monkey king’s companions, liberating from the Chinese.
This novel should be read as it is about native American history like most others, but it establishes a connection with Chinese trickster figures.
9. The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong
Stephen Graham Jones writes it. The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong is a 2000 published coming-of-age novel 326 pages long.
This book is about Pidgin, who returns to New Mexico and discovers that someone has stolen his dead father’s body. He sets out to find the body and encounters a radical tribe called Goliards with whom his father was involved.
This novel is highly recommended for reading by native American residents as it is exciting and mentions a few native American tribes.
10. Pushing The Bear
Pushing The Bear is 1996 published historical fiction, written by Diane Glancy and is 241 pages long.
This novel is about the ‘Trail Of Tears’ which was a time when the Cherokee tribe people were forced to leave their land and the struggles related to it faced by them. The narrator voices the sorrows of the Cherokees through this, what is now knows as the cruelest episode in U.S. history.
This book might feel nostalgic for some native Americans while others might find it sad and heart-aching to read what struggles their ancestors went through.
Tracks is a 1988 published 226 pages long Native-American fiction written by Louise Erdrich.
This book is told in altering narrations. In the first section, the first narrator is talking to his granddaughter, Lulu, to try and reunite her with her mother. In the second section, the second narrator reveals her relation with Lulu and how she is jealous of her.
This book highlights the inner conflicts of a native American tribe and how they are lured by money given by the white men. So, this novel can familiarise the native readers with their past.
12. Bloodlines: Odyssey Of A Native Daughter
Bloodlines: Odyssey Of A Native Daughter was written by Janet Campbell Hale in 1993 and is 220 pages long.
This book contains autobiographical essays that reflect the author’s past and heritage. Hale, in this book, remembers what it means to be a native American woman and how it feels to live a life on the reservation.
The author is from the Coeur d’Alene tribe, so the book’s essays might seem to be relatable to those having roots from the same tribe.
13. The Road Back To Sweetgrass
The Road Back To Sweetgrass is a fictional coming-of-age novel written by Linda LeGarde Grover in 2014 and is 208 pages long.
This book accounts for the lives of a trio of American-Indian women from 1970 to 2014 when the book was published. All three women leave home when young and how their lives proceed, are all mentioned in the book.
The Native American women might find this book somewhere relatable as it follows the history and myths of the native American society.
These were some of the books my Native American friends suggested to me, and I loved them. I got to know a lot more about the native community than I already did. I would recommend all other native American people to give it a read, especially the younger generation, to know more about their history.
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